SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Residents in Springfield, Missouri have voted to repeal a law that provided special protections to those who identify as homosexuals and transgenders as local pastors have spoken out on their concerns about the issue.
The Springfield City Council had added the protections to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance last fall, which allow for men who identify as women—and vice versa—to be allowed to use the restroom and locker room of their choice. It also prohibited landlords from turning away homosexuals who want to live together and banned business owners from refusing a homosexual or transgender for employment based on their lifestyle.
But those who opposed the move petitioned the council to either repeal the measure or put it up for a vote. As the council chose the latter, the addition went up for a vote on Tuesday.
51.4 percent of voters, or 15,347 residents, voted to have the language appealed, while 48.6 percent of voters, or 14,493 residents, voted to keep the addition in place.
One of the most vocal opponents of the bill was John Lindell, pastor of the 9,000-member James River Church. He delivered a message last month urging his congregation to vote to repeal the law.
“We all have desires that are warped as a result of our fallen nature: pride, selfishness, greed, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, lust, envy, covetousness, chemical addiction,” Lindell said. “Our desire for things God has forbidden is a reflection of how sin has distorted us, rather than a reflection of how Christ has made us.”
He encouraged congregants that change is possible—for any stronghold—as the reason for Christ’s death was to set mankind free from the power of sin.
“It is possible for someone who has practiced a life of adultery to stop,” Lindell declared. “It is possible for someone who has been a life-long alcoholic to stop. It is possible for somebody who has a cutting tongue and a big mouth to stop. It is possible for someone who is engaged in homosexual behavior to stop.”
According to the Springfield News Leader, Lindell explained that the ordinance is wrongful as not only is the Bible clear that homosexuality is against God’s creation order, but the amended language tramples the rights of Christians who believe God’s word. He suggested that it forced Christians into the closet while homosexuals come out of it.
“This ordinance reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship,” Lindell said. “In other words, you can believe what you want within the confines of the four walls of the church as long as you don’t live it outside of the church.”
He continued to urge his congregation to think biblically as they go to vote, reminding them that although critics say that he should not speak on such issues in church, it is his duty as a pastor.
“Martin Luther, the great reformer, said this: ‘If you preach the gospel in all aspects—with the exception of the issues which deal specifically with your time—you are not preaching the gospel at all,'” Lindell declared.
Assemblies of God Superintendent George Wood had also penned a letter to 35 Springfield churches, encouraging them to urge their congregations to vote for the repeal.